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United Nations Makes New Contraceptive Access Declaration

United Nations Makes New Contraceptive Access Declaration


Over 200 million women of reproductive age worldwide are unable to obtain high quality family planning care.  Family planning, which helps women to space their childbearing out and minimize the health risks of pregnancy and birth, is not just a good idea according to the United Nations today.  In the annual United Nations Family Planning Fund report this year, the U.N. says that access to contraceptives and family planning services are a fundamental human right.

The report notes that the highest rates of inadequate access to contraception and family planning occur in populations of adolescents, impoverished women, and women who are members of ethnic or religious minorities.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, family planning is not only a human right for women, but allows them to more successfully advocate for their other rights.  For example, women who are impregnated at a very young age in developing nations are almost never able to complete their studies after they deliver the baby.  Because of this, having access to reliable contraception can keep women in school for longer and help them gain equal economic access in developing nations.

Studies conducted by the United Nations have repeatedly shown that women who have access to family planning reap major social, educational, and economic benefits from that access.  Wages for women who have been able to space out their childbearing and have children when they prefer with contraception can have wages more than 30 percent higher than their counterparts who do not use contraception, even in the same nations among women with otherwise equal backgrounds.

Spacing out pregnancies is important to protect both maternal and infant health in developing countries.  One part of the Population Fund's report states that studies have shown reductions of up to 46 percent in the infant mortality rate simply from encouraging child spacing and giving contraceptive access.

While a lack of access to family planning is commonly thought of as an issue that only affects the developing world, some developed nations have also struggled with providing this access to women.  For example, Ireland has come under fire in recent days after a young Indian woman died from blood poisoning following a pregnancy gone wrong.  Irish law forbids termination of pregnancy, which could have saved her life.

The United States also lacks access to family planning in many rural areas.  The United Nations says that because of the stripping of state funding for many organizations that provide family planning services, access in the United States has actually been on the decline, rather than increasing as it has been in most of the world.

The declaration that family planning is a human right worldwide is not a binding resolution.  There will not be any penalties or sanctions for countries that do not provide family planning services to their citizens.  However, the United Nations Population Fund report should help researchers and women's rights advocates rally for additional contraceptive access and funding.

Sources: unfpa.org